tv Your Business MSNBC June 18, 2011 5:30am-6:00am EDT
present "your business" on msnbc. hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business" where we give you tips and advice to help your business grow. on this show we spend a lot of time talking about the bifts of online marketing. it's quick. it's cheap and you can reach a lot of people. but today we're going to meet the founders of an online company who say it's a mistake to do everything online and forget about meeting your customers face-to-face. >> on any given night would you rather have sex or a massage? >> this is the skinny scoop street team? >> i'm from skinnyscoop.com
where mostly women are polling each other online about topics that help them make better decisions. today we're letting the men and women vote on one of our more hotly debated topics. >> they're spending the afternoon in a san francisco marketplace shocking people a little with their question and getting the word out about skinnyscoop.com. >> we have an online site. and we allow women to poll each other. anything from do you spank your child to what kind of suv should i buy? >> the company was founded in 2009 by best friends turned business partners. >> we wanted there to be a way for women to get information quickly and easily. you're not stuck in a chat room where you might spend hours trying to find your search topic. you can see answers in a snapshot and move on with your day. >> skinnyscoop is a quint essential ad supported internet company. all of their consent is online.
the product is virtual. they communicate through facebook, twitter, email and blogs. >> we view facebook, twitter and others as a great way for us to package up some of those nuggets and share them. and we see then people will click through and want to learn more. >> like what, what would be a nugget? >> a nugget might be you'd be surprised how many women admit to spanking their child. click here to see more. >> but erin and eden say though the price is right for that kind of marketing, it's basically free, it's not enough. the problem is only communicating online is it's just not personal. >> it's been really important for us to show that myself and erin are two women just like the women who engage with us and that there really is a personality not some nebraska louse corporation behind skinnyscoop. >> erin and eden are the brand. they started the company because as busy moms they needed this service in their own lives. >> let's go brush teeth and then socks and shoes.
>> that's why they frequently come out from behind their computers and meet their community. or prospective community members in person. on a recent tuesday evening, erin showed up at a girls' night out party of skinny skst scoop users and brought out some skinny scoop questions. >> i always wondered about that same question. >> erin only reached about 20 women that night. not nearly as many through an email campaign. not to mention it took a few hours out of her busy day. but eden says the personal touch goes far. >> you can see whether it's a new person or an existing customer it just takes it up a level i think when they meet us and understand we're like them. we're sharing our information. we find that they turn into some of our biggest may venns. >> there's no doubt the guests have fun. >> i think there's another distinction that's missing, what counts as cooking. >> getting them to the site is
still not a no brainer. >> there's the catch is how many people will not only get on skinny scoop but become members. we'll follow up with an email from the he or she tes -- host tesz. >> the women have teamed up with a group of other female entrepreneurs who share their same philosophy. they recently threw a party in san francisco with founders of other online companies. >> it really is a chance for some of our best customers, partners, vendors to meet the women behind the brands. if they can't trust us, then we really don't have a business. having myself and erin, my cob founder out meeting people in person i think really brings that personality to the brand. zble rin and eden admit that going offline is a risk.
they're constantly doing a cost-benefit analysis. >> tough be careful. you can throw a lot of time throwing a party and having a get together is it translating into results? that's the question. >> but they say meeting people in person has other bifrts, too. because if they spent all of their time on the computer, they might lose touch with the real people in the real world their site is designed to help. >> on any given night you have a choice. say it's tonight, which will it be? so is it worth the time and money it takes to go out and meet your customers? let's turn to this week's board of directors. mike et port is the creator of book yourself solid. and howard morgan is managing partner at first round capital. nice to see you guys. >> nice to see you. >> i'm torn on this my inclination is to say of course
it's fantastic to go out and meet your customers. look that party -- both parties they took time, they took money. these women are running a company and time is hard to come by. is it worth meeting 20 people? >> well, yes and no. they have a content business. and they have an unfair advantage online because you can do content marketing. what they started to do is experienceial marketing. can they take the ambassadors and have them set up their own events and parties until it grows and then they've got a place out in the real world. >> i was talking to them. one of the things they're doing is a party in a box. that party that they have they have a kit to do-it-yourself. >> ebay when they started out did a lot of offline events to get people interested in selling on ebay. it was very effective for them. i agree with michael, they can't do it all themselves. they could get them sponsored.
houseparty.com has thousands of parties each year for parties. they do parties for tv launches and they could tie into those and add the skinny scoop stuff to those parties. it might be interesting tie-in to be able to do it. >> how important is it if you're the kind of company we're you're not in front, not brick and mortar. how important is it for people to know you? it's a trend. you get email news letters. we always talk about how online marketing is so personal, right? twitter, facebook and emails we're talking directly to people. these guys are saying it's not personal enough. do we have to get that personal in this day and age, is it important? >> i don't know about have to, but i like to. i own a company right now where we were doing that sort of corporate voice. we, we, we. it wasn't working very well. we gave the one person who does most of the copyrighting the role. she's talking to the customers
in a way that is much more engaging that we, we, we. >> they're trying to get very personal information from people. it's a lot easier to doha if you know who you're talking tom i think that works for skinny scoop. michael said it might not work for kelloggs. >> i was thinking of frosted flakes with the tiger. do you think that she says when people meet us they become our evangelists. that's almost to your point of get people to do this work for you. >> absolutely. >> scaling that nationally, they're based in san francisco is also hard. what they need to do is to get women around the country who have the same kind of problems to start up local groups. and again, they can get them sponsored through their ad model tied into that. >> i think this is a really interesting topic particularly because so much of marketing is done online. thanks so much for discussing it with me.
the skinny scoop folks learned what they had to do to cultivate their relationship with their users. you don't have to be an online business to keep customers coming back. take these entrepreneurs who have gone to the extreme to make their clients priority number one. >> they deserve everything they expect and more. >> it's not about checking in, getting the service done and leaving. >> we want them to feel like this is a sanctuary. >> peace of mind, that's what the owners of square one salon and spa in dayton, ohio, hope their clients achieve when they walk through the door. >> you're not just a person in here paying for a service. you're here for an experience. >> bret johnson, doug henderson and josh opened square one ten years ago with just eight employees to fill what they saw as a void in the market. since then square one has
expanded to a second location with a combined staff of about 70 people. johnson says the secret to the salon's success was in the service. >> customer service was always priority one, two or three. it turned into priority one and we developed our skills as we went along. >> whether a client is coming in for a hair style, or massage, going above and beyond is more pont than ever before. clients are greeted at the door and offered a drink. employees take their coat and escort them to the waiting room. after that the experience gets a bit more elaborate. >> we provide a scalp and shoulder massage before the hair service and we do a mini facial at the shampoo bowl with a hot towel which people love. >> the individual attention doesn't end there here's one example. this pair has lunch served to them during their day spa. as far as johnson is concerned, the word no is not a part of square one's vocabulary. >> i wanted this to be a yes salon. yes, we can. even if something isn't available shl i'm sorry i don't have that option available, but
i have option a and option b. >> part of what's next is renewed focus on getting clients to come back. some customers now get a courtesy call after their visit. >> that's an opportunity again for them to say, you know, the hair needs more off the left side. my color needs more blonde. we'll correct that at no cost at all. >> also to customers, a helping hand when times get tough. he understanderson tells the story of a client with cancer who had her haircut off and was worried to go home to her son. >> i get my business partner and say can you take your afternoon and take this client and get something. he did. he dropped everything. put her in the car, and went basically wig shopping just another example of the level of customer care that we give. it's unparalleled, i think. >> it may sound a bit unorthodox in the end it's all part of the plan. >> we get it it's all about
them. it's not about us, it's about them and their comfort. >> the client and the needs will change, the goal is to make sure square one customer service never suffers. >> making more money every day isn't the right thing for us. what is is happy guests, and happy staff. >> i think people are hungry for personal touches and really knowing your customer how they like their coffee. what time works best for them. what's going on in their home life. why they're important to you and your business. people want to be connected. nobody likes to wait in airports. on business travel particularly efficiency is a must. here are five tips for getting through the airport fast courtesy of ink.com. >> be smart about checking in. print boarding passes at home and check-in online. don't check-in luggage unless you absolutely have to and only
pack the necessities. stay organized. keep your laptop and your bag to itries together that you're not searching for them in the security line. book the premium tickets. a premium cabin seat means perks like separate security lines and getting off the plane first. dress simply. wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. keep jewelry and belts in your bag to avoid getting held up in the security line. finally, travel when it's quiet. try to avoid flights that are likely to be optimal for the business traveler or thing family. don't travel during high traffic times like fridays and evenings. stick around, we have more tips on keeping your small business up and rung. we'll talk about how much of an emergency fund you should have set aside for your business. and surf's up. there's a product to help you carry around the beach chair.
this is my band from the 80's, looker. hair and mascara, a lethal combo. i'm jon haber of alto music. my business is all about getting music into people's hands. and the plum card from american express open helps me do that. you name it, i can buy it. and the savings that we get from the early pay discount has given us money to reinvest back into our business and help quadruple our floor space. how can the plum card's trade terms get your business booming? booming is putting more music in more people's hands. we've talked on this program about the boom, daily deals phenomenon. especially the wildly popular groupon. that company is doing so well they recently turned down google's offer to buy the company for $6 billion.
now they have plans to go public. that daily deals rage may be good for consumers. but is it a good thing for small business owners. we take a look. >> perhaps the only thing that could beat a romantic dinner is a half priced romantic dinner. what brought you in? >> groupon. >> groupon is the leader of an online explosion is what is called the daily deal business. pushing prices down by guaranteeing a certain number of customers. >> i've gotten everywhere from trying new restaurants, paint balling, discounts on hot dogs all the way up to steaks and dinner. >> instead of clipping old fashioned coupons, groupon negotiates lower price and emails the discounts free to its subscribers. >> in the same way facebook has redefined communication, groupon is allowing people to redefine the retail business. >> for this restaurant it brings new customers and more.
>> of the 2400 new customers 900 of them have come back in multiple times. >> how big is the daily deal revolution? well in just three years groupon has gone from a tiny chicago startup to a company operating in almost 50 countries. today some 500 companies dish up the discounts. >> about a year ago there were only 50. in two years we expect that there will be thousands. >> some retailers report headaches. >> they offer massive discount. they take a loss on their services or their products and then they end up getting inundated with customers for a brief period of time and then the customers don't return. >> after paying groupon its percentage and paying the instructors this chicago yoga center didn't make much profit, but that wasn't the goal. >> groupon was an excellent way to expose our studio to new students. >> that may be the point. daily deals may bring the customers, but it's up to each business to keep them coming
back. summer is finally here and that mean it's time to go to the beach. today's elevator pitcher has a product to help you get a good seat. >> hi. about a year and a half ago i came up with the idea for a beach chair bag. it's a brand new product. it's has a patent pending on it. it allows you to turn your fold flat beach chair into a backpack. it's made in america with canvas cloth. -- >> you know what, i've got to say as somebody with three kids who is lugging so much stuff i think this is brilliant then i have extra hands. how much money are you looking for in. >> i'm look for $250,000. >> okay. what are you going to do with it? >> use it for marketing and i think i can return a percentage. >> let's turn to our panel if we can disturb you guys for a minute. >> i'm relaxing.
>> it's a nice beach day. $250,000 you need to sell 10,000 of those to get that back or a little more with your gross margin maybe 20,000. how many of those do you think you can sell each year? >> what do you think you immediate to do? if he has one minute to pitch you, what does he have to say to get you interest snd. >> i want to know how big is the market. it's a neat product. it looks really neat. i know i could use it because i go to the beach a lot and carrying stuff is a pain in the neck. the question is how big does it get as a product? are there 100,000 a year you could sell? >> you want numbers. how about you? >> scale, what's the executive team like behind it. that can be knocked off pretty easily. so the scale and what happens when it starts to get popular and who's going to drive it. >> this is good advice. these are the couple tips you need to make when you're making
these pitches to people like this. everyone thinks -- i think the product is interesting. >> we're very lazy as you can tell. we could use something like this. >> i'm going to go for a jog in these shoes on this beach now. good luck with everything. appreciate you coming on the program. you guys, i will leave you back to your sunbathing in your suit. really appropriate. >> i go to beachchairbags if you want one of these. >> nice plug. there you go. this can be one on your team. >>. if any of you out there have a product or service and you want feed back on your chances of getting interested investors? all you have to do is send us an email. in that email don't forget to include a short summary of what your company does, how much money you're trying to raise and what you intend to do with that money. you never know, somebody out there watching the show might be interested in helping you. . it's time now to answer some of your business questions.
michael and howard are with us once again. the first question is about handling your company's revenue. >> when building your business credit is it more important to pay yourself as an employee or to leave that money as profit for your business? >> that's a great question. >> sure. i think it's more important to pay yourself as an employee because when you do go for credit any of the banks and other people are going to look at the business to see how much it generates as a real business. a real business would be paying you. you should be paying yourself. >> got it. you agree? >> yes. >> it's nice to get some money. >> you've got to eat. you can't eat noodles every day. >> we did a story oon investor every day was truly not paying herself and sleeping in her business. okay. we go to a question from steven. he writes, i have owned a small restaurant for 11 years. during the past year with the introduction of a new menu item i've seen sales increase from
15% to 20% over the past couple of years. i want to start upgrading but i'm nervous about spending. is there a rule of thumb about how much of an emergency fund you should have in a small business. >> i'm a little neurotic i want a year of cash that i can absolute operate the business if nothing is coming in. i think you want to work for at least six months. >> i agree. bill gates when he built microsoft wanted a year of sales in the bank. for restaurant i would look at my slack period which is often the summer unless it's a shore restaurant and say i'd like to have six months which is two quarts of that low level of revenue to get through. >> that's a good point. >> his point too, is this one item boosts up, you have to make sure that's going to stay, also. it's not just a trend right now. >> exactly. >> the next question is about organizing your company's finances. >> how do you identify a financial professional that conducts break even analysis and conduct and build pricing
models? >> i think kudos to her for realizing that she needs one. how do you find someone? >> local universities and colleges often have mbas interning that can get you that for free. your cpa can often recommend somebody to help you with spread sheet building. >> people should not forget, i think that is the most underused resource. all the mba students and teachers who wont their students to have real life experiences. i'm quite sure when we were many school we did projects that were just as good. >> call up the community college and see what they think. >> you can keep going back to them and not somebody that you want to graduate, how do you find somebody? >> i use my accountant. you may want to find an accountant that's an mba. they've done this work specifically. >> ask around. i think the first thing is ask around to other people in your area. >> exactly. >> finally, we have a question
from lauren. she wriets, my business creates and sells gifts to specialty sporting markets. my question has to do with wholesale marketing. a gift trade show wants to define me in ways i don't seem to fit. i need to grow and i don't know how to reach gift shops without exhibiting at a trade show. >> online is great, number one. secondly, there are magazines in every area. i went online and i found gifthopmag.com a magazine that all the gift shops get. advertise in there. you can reach all of them at wholesale without going to the trade show. >> there's an interesting question in there. should i try to fit into someone else's mold, the answer is no. and there's this weird assumption that this one gift show is the place. there's got to be a lot of different opportunity for her and to expand her awareness is so she can see more opportunities.
>> i'm also thinking for somebody like this, we were talking about building a network is find somebody that sells something that's not competitive to yours and maybe see who distributes their stuff or how they get to people. >> we love creating a network of companies that serve the same target audience but offer different services. >> how do you create this network, fwi way? we talk about it. >> online communities. there are online communities for most areas. or go to the trade show as an attendee and meet some of the people. the gift show is a giant show in new york. it takes up the piers and so they slide everybody into whatever they think their particular piece is. and she may be unhappy where they want to put her. >> the point is don't slide in somewhere. you're going to live with this. somebody's going to think whatever you are whatever they slotted you as. >> this is like dating. how do you find a date? you talk to your friends, your
mother talks to her friend. >> now you go online. >> you have to decide how you want to show up there. so the right kind of people are attracted to you. >> what are you going to wear? >> thank you so much. that was a lot of great advice and i really appreciate it. if any of you out there have a question for our experts go to our website. there just hit the ask the show link to submit a question for our panel. michael and howard had some really helpful advice about how to improve your business. now let's get some great ideas from small business owners just like you. >> you know, everybody wants to own a business, but nobody really wants to be a business owner. so the tip would be is to put business, put your business first. proper preparation would definitely prevent poor
performance. >> my most important tip would be if you're looking for a partnership find someone that can add to your name. whatever weakness you have, find someone that has that strength. it would make youen stoppable. >> i think the main thing is to show your customer that you care. as you know, people they don't know, they don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care. basically, keep in touch with them and get their feed back. and basically tell them that you always try your best every time because you care about them. a good reputation online can be a big part of getting new customers. and getting a lot of people talking about you online can help your search engine optimization. interested? check out our website of the week.
whirlocal.com helps you gather reviews of your company, share them and helps get you higher on search results. there's a one time set up fee and a monthly monitoring fee. to learn more about today's show click on our website. you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. we love getting your feed back. you can also follow us on twitter. next week, we come to you from this year's "the new york times'" small business summit. we'll talk to owners and experts to find out where the money is for funding and we'll meet a small town dress shop owner who's dream was to leave the suburbs and open a shop in the big apple. >> you're in connecticut people don't count you as anything. even though our stores are westport and greenwich are fabulous. it would be oh, you're in connecticut. you're not in new york. so we wanted to be in new york. >> find out what it takes to
open a store here in the competitive retail market of new york city. til then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. this is my band from the 80's, looker. hair and mascara, a lethal combo. i'm jon haber of alto music. i've been around music my entire life. this is the first alto music i opened when i was 24. my business is all about getting music into people's hands. letting someone discover how great music is, is just an awesome thing. and the plum card from american express open helps me do that. i use it for as much inventory as i possibly can. from picks...to maracas... to drums... to dj equipment... you name it, i can buy it. and the savings that we get from the early pay discount on those purchases